Sunday, March 7, 2021

B1: Cover Art and Artists

In considering the possibilities for a cover illustration to module B1 "In Search of the Unknown", author Mike Carr requested a depiction of the garden room:
Once the showplace of the entire stronghold, the garden has, over the passage of time, become a botanical nightmare. With no one to tend the gardens, the molds and fungi have grown out of control.

from module B1 "In Search of the Unknown"

The resulting scene, a rare collaboration between David Sutherland and Dave Trampier, is filled with mystery and menace (note the tight formation of the explorers) :

"Monochrome" cover to original version of module B1 "In Search of the Unknown" (1st to 3rd printings, 1978/79).  Illustration attributed to "D/S & DAT" (David Sutherland and David A. Trampier).

Trampier's original version of the illustration was later used in The Polyhedron, the official publication of the RPGA, (see Trampier version of B1 cover over at Dragonsfoot):

Original illustration of mushroom forest in garden room, by Dave Trampier, from The Polyhedron #5 (1982).  Click here for a comparison between the two.

Trampier likely drew inspiration for the giant mushrooms from this illustration by Stephen Fabian, used for the cover of a 1974 pulp fiction anthology:

Famous Fantastic Classics #1 (1974), edited by Robert E. Weinberg, downloadable here.  Illustration by Stephen Fabian.

When the new Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay was released in 1981, module B1 was reissued with new front and back cover art by Darlene:

Cover to B/X version of module B1 "In Search of the Unknown" (4th to 6th printings, 1981).  Illustration by Darlene the Artist.  Click here for illustration on the back cover.

There was also a Dutch version of "In Search of the Unknown" using art by Jeff Easley for its cover:

Cover to Dutch version of module B1 "In Search of the Unknown" (1988) in BECMI trade dress.  Illustration by Jeff Easley.

Easley's illustration has only a tenuous connection to the module, having been recycled from the cover to Dragon #138:

Dragon #138 (October, 1988).  Cover illustration by Jeff Easley.  Note the image was flipped horizontally for the Dutch version of B1.

From Dragon #138:

Our Halloween Greetings cover is the first DRAGON® Magazine cover from Jeff Easley, whose work should be familiar to any longtime gamers. It is also the first cover acquisition made by Lori Svikel, our new art director. Jeff admits that he collects antique Halloween items; he certainly has a feel for the topic.

*Easley's illustration for the cover of Dragon #138 was also used for the "Eye of the Beholder" video game released in 1991.

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